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Talk to relatives about caregiving before they need it; resources that can help

-- Ask about insurance policies including long-term care, disability and life.

-- Discuss all the possible living options should that need arise. The options may include home modifications (to yours or theirs), home care, assisted living, senior day-care centers and nursing homes.

-- Share information you've gotten from your local office of aging. You can find the contact information by going to

-- For added support, consider hiring a geriatric care manager, a professional who specializes in helping families who are caring for older relatives. "When siblings are spread across the country, this person can help you come up with a game plan before something happens," says Kaaren Boothroyd, executive director of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers. The cost can range from $80 to $200 per hour. But the fee could be more or less depending on where you live. You can find more information on this topic at

"Caregivers are rarely prepared for the emotional wear and tear on their marriages and sibling relationships," Rae said. "While caregiving can be rewarding, it can also stir up years of resentments and unresolved family issues. Engaging a neutral third party to negotiate can be very helpful."

-- Discuss what monthly income, savings, investments and other assets the older relative has. Save this topic for the last part of your talk.

Relatives -- adult children included -- can take advantage of seniors, so understand that your parents may be reluctant to hand over financial information. Nonetheless, keep pushing, because in all that you will have to do, it's vital to effective caregiving to have some idea of what financial resources are available. So talk.

Readers can write to Michelle Singletary at The Washington Post, 1150 15th St. NW, Washington, D.C. 20071.

Comments and questions are welcome, but because of the volume of mail, personal responses are not always possible. Please note that comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer's name, unless a specific request to do otherwise is indicated.

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